Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Conciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Recently Painted Figures

    Posted By on January 29, 2015

    Police from the RAFM Call of Cthulu range

    Police from the RAFM Call of Cthulu range

    As I continue to await the arrival of my 28mm Winter War figures from the Kickstarter campaign, I have been clearing out various odds and ends from my unpainted lead box.  Last weekend I found these pulp figures and knocked them out.  It was fun to paint a few one-0ff figures instead of a larger project for a change of pace.

    Household staff from the RAFM Call of Cthulu range

    Household staff from the RAFM Call of Cthulu range

    Dangerous dames

    Dangerous dames from various Pulp Figures sets

    Two "scientists" from the Steve Jackson giant ant set

    Two "scientists" from the Steve Jackson giant ant set

    I love this guy holding the brain in his hand.

    Three figures from the RAFM Call of Cthulu range

    Three figures from the RAFM Call of Cthulu range

    Sleeping cowboy

    Sleeping cowboy

    I have no idea who made this cowboy figure, but I like it.  It was a flea market find.

    Duck!

    Duck!

    When I was running my Tunnels and Troll campaign as a cadet, I made a typo in the description of one of the rooms.  I meant to say “guard” but instead said “gurad.”  From then on, these armored ducks who patrolled the halls of The Dungeon of the Athelfrog were known as Gurads.  You actually had to pass a saving roll the first time you saw one or you would fall on the floor in a spasm of incapacitating laughter.

    A heavily armed duck

    A heavily armed duck

    I have no idea who manufactured this figure.  A buddy found it in a flea market bin many years ago.  It has been languishing in my unpainted lead box, because I had designs on making a mold and creating a full unit.  I finally abandoned that idea and painted it.  Does anyone know who made this figure?

    Some Light Painting this Saturday

    Posted By on January 25, 2015

    Steve Jackson giant ants attack

    Steve Jackson giant ants attack

    As I have been recovering from knee surgery, I haven’t been too productive in terms of hobby painting.  As I began to feel better I found a small box of unpainted figures I had forgotten about — a mishmash of things that went into a box during our last move.  In addition, I prepped and painted six giant ants from a short-lived line of figures from Steve Jackson Games that Don Hogge found while cleaning out his basement.

    First batch of Old Glory robots

    First batch of Old Glory robots

    One of the items I found was a bag of Old Glory figures from my last subscription to the Old Glory Army.  These were “make your own robots.”  They came with ten torsos and lots of legs and heads.

    Second batch of Old Glory robots

    Second batch of Old Glory robots

    I had a rough night last night trying to sleep.  After a few Aleve, I was finally able to get some sleep.  When I woke this morning, I wasn’t in the mood for any detail painting, so I just dry brushed the ants.  I also mostly dry brushed the robots and then painted in a few details here and there.

    Third batch of Old Glory robots

    Third batch of Old Glory robots

    The robots from Old Glory are pretty nice figures, but my camera pictures don’t really do them justice.

    First Play Test of the Pterodactyl Game

    Posted By on January 24, 2015

    The "bomber" in its starting position

    The "bomber" in its starting position

    Last night would have been a Traveller night for those in the HAWKs participating in Eric’s campaign, but not enough players could make it, so Eric suggested that I host a game at my house.  I recently had knee surgery and am still not too mobile.  We pulled together a couple of folks at the last minute, and I hosted the game.

    The German side setup

    The German side setup

    The objective of the game was for the pterodactyl “bomber” to get across the table.  It had limited mobility and had to weave back and forth across the table to avoid stressing the pilot.

    A group of Brits on Griffons in their starting positions

    A group of Brits on Griffons in their starting positions

    I used a very slightly modified version of X-Wing for this game.  I found a site that let be build tailored order dials and another to build the pilot / ship cards.

    The fur ball begins

    The fur ball begins

    I placed a few mountains on the table to add a little interest to the table and a few obstacles around which to fly.  It turned out that the “bomber” got too close to one of the mountains while trying to avoid the onrushing griffons and eagles and took some damage.

    The beginning of the game

    The beginning of the game

    The action builds

    The action builds

    While the “bomber” could sustain twelve hits, that wasn’t enough.  An American with a Garand did the last point of damage, and the pterodactyl fell screeching between two mountains.

    The griffons swoop toward the giant pterodactyl

    The griffons swoop toward the giant pterodactyl

    I think the sides were pretty evenly matched.  The Germans had slightly better pilots and several auto cannons that were big killers.  The Allies had numbers on their side, and even the Brits with their bolt-action rifles were able to get in a hit or two.  Very little tinkering is necessary to be able to run this game at Cold Wars 2015.  I made some mistakes on the German pilot / ship cards that I will correct.

    Dials for Dinosaurs

    Posted By on January 21, 2015

    Brits closing in on the "bomber," which is defended by a couple of German "fighters"

    Brits closing in on the "bomber," which is defended by a couple of German "fighters"

    In a previous post I showed pictures of my recently completed Griffons, American Eagles, and Stukasauruses for my Cold Wars Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, USAAF, and RAF game.  I mentioned that I intended to use a slightly modified version of X-Wing for the game.  I found a cool site that allow you to make custom movement dials.  From that site, I made these:

    Dial for Giant Pterodactyl "Bomber"

    Dial for Giant Pterodactyl "Bomber"

    Dial for German Infantry Riding on Stukasauruses

    Dial for German Infantry Riding on Stukasauruses

    Dials for American Infantry Riding on Giant Eagles

    Dial for American Infantry Riding on Giant Eagles

    Dial for British Infantry Riding on Griffons

    Dial for British Infantry Riding on Griffons

    I plan to print them on card stock and find some fasteners that will allow them to spin.  They should be good enough for one or play tests and the convention game.

    I found another site that lets you build the ship/pilot cards, but a lot of the words are in French.  Hopefully I’ll find a similar site in English before long.  Otherwise, I’ll have to make up cards myself — which shouldn’t be too hard.

     

    Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, USAAF, and RAF

    Posted By on January 18, 2015

    Despite recent knee surgery that had me flat on my back for a couple of days this week, I have managed to finish up some projects that have been in progress for a couple of months.  I finished the last 80 of my 10mm fantasy figures!  But this post is about my upcoming Cold Wars 2015 Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, USAAF, and RAF game.

    Brits on Griffons

    Brits on Griffons

    In previous posts I showed pictures of the Eureaka German “Stukasauruses” and the Americans riding on giant eagles.  To go along with those forces, I wanted to put together a squad of British infantry riding on griffons.  Once again, Major Objective games came through with custom assembled and painted Brits.  The griffons were from Reaper Bones.  I used those griffons, because the plastic material from which they are molded makes it very easy to cut off the bases to make them look like they were flying.

    Close up of some Brits on Griffons

    Close up of some Brits on Griffons

    GW style flight stands are pretty expensive.  I bought a bunch of 1/8″ clear plastic rod from an on-line hobby site and cut it into two-inch lengths.  I bought two-inch diameter MDF disks from the guy at the HMGS East conventions who sells self-serve Chinese takeout boxes full of bases.  A little work with a drill put correctly-sized holes in the bases and griffons.

    The fur ball around the "bomber"

    The fur ball around the "bomber"

    In this picture you can see the American on giant eagles (left) chasing the giant pterodactyl “bomber,” Brits on griffons (right) attacking the bomber from the front, and the German Stukasaurus (center)  ”fighter escort.”

    A close up of the "bomber"

    A close up of the "bomber"

    You can see the control levers and the turret I made to fit on the “bomber.”  The turret can rotate.

    Aaaaaaah!

    Aaaaaaah!

    When I run this game at Cold Wars, I plan to use a slightly modified version of X-Wing.  I think the pterodactyl will have the stats of the Princess Leah shuttle, including the range-five weapon.

    The "bridge" of the "bomber"

    The "bridge" of the "bomber"

     

    Brits on Griffons

    Last view of Brits on griffons

    More 10mm Fantasy Figures and a Tank

    Posted By on January 12, 2015

    A Victorian Science Fiction Style Tank

    A Victorian Science Fiction Style Tank

    Last weekend I spent most of Saturday helping the software folks on a First Robotics Team.  I still managed to get a little painting done on Sunday.  I am still banging away at trying to clear all the 10mm fantasy figures out of my unpainted lead pile.  Along the way, however, I also finally decided to paint this tank gray.  It has been sitting on my painting table for months waiting for me to decide.

    Pendraken Dwarfs with Crossbows

    Pendraken Dwarfs with Crossbows

    I worked to knock out the few remaining Pendraken figures I had left from a batch Chris acquired from Ebay.  The figures seem a little large for 10mm, but they are good enough looking dwarfs for my tastes in fantasy figures.  (After all, how realistic to fantasy figures need to be?!)

    Pendraken Dwarf Knights

    Pendraken Dwarf Knights

    Heavily armored and armed dwarf knights?  How slow do you think these guys are going to be on the table.  Find a place you want defended and concentrate on other units.

    Pendraken Dwarfs with Spears

    Pendraken Dwarfs with Spears

    Some of these spears are a bit flimsy.  I lost one just popping them off the popsicle sticks I use for painting.  After a couple of games, they might become angry geriatric dwarfs with canes.

    Pendraken Orc Berserkers

    Pendraken Orc Berserkers

    I don’t know what these figures are really supposed to be, but I decided to paint them in garish colors and call them orc berserkers.

    A GW Giant

    A GW Giant

    I still want to add a little landscaping to this base, but I like the way he turned out.

    Dwarfs with Chain Type Maces (aka Morning Stars)

    Pendraken Dwarfs with Chain Type Maces (aka Morning Stars)

    I’m not sure when these forces will see action — or if they’ll see action — before our large Bear Yourselves Valiantly game at Cold Wars 2015 in March

    A Work in Progress

    Posted By on January 7, 2015

    A work in progress

    A work in progress

    I have been working for over a year on a Weird World War II project involving the Eureka “Stukasauruses.”  In an earlier post, I showed the American infantry riding on giant eagles.  I am also mounting Brits on flying griffons.  The scenario I will run at Cold Wars 2015 will involve this giant pterodactyl carrying secret mega bombs to some key Allied facility.  The pterodactyl will be escorted by Stukasauruses.  The Allies will attempt to shoot it down.  I plan to use somewhat modified XWing for this game.

    The underside with the bomb racks

    The underside with the bomb racks

    It is not done yet — end the title of the post, “work in progress.”  I plan to add some straps as details and also add a dual machine-gun ball turret on the platform on its back.

    The top, showing the mounting point for the weapons platform

    The top, showing the mounting point for the weapons platform

    For ease of transport, I glued a piece of magnet to its back.  The weapon / driver platform is on a piece of metal which will be affixed to the magnet during game play.

    Another view of the top

    Another view of the top

    You can just barely see the details on the controller

    t barely see the details on the controller

    I’ll post more pictures when I get it finished.

     

    Bob’s Burger Wagon

    Posted By on January 6, 2015

    Two days ago I posted pictures of Betty’s pie stand for my pulp village.  Last night I finished Bob’s Burger Wagon, the second Ainsty kit available through Recreational Conflict.  As with the pie stand, this kit assembled easily.  The notches in the roof are a little small for tabs on the sides of the wagon for was removal during game play.  I had to widen them a little.

    Most of the decorations were made in PowerPoint, printed on card stock, and glued to the sides of the wagon.  This wagon and Betty’s Pies will make a nice addition to the Frosty Bar in the park near the center of Granville.  The cub scouts are from Reaper Chronoscope, and “Bob” is from Pulp Figures.

    Betty’s Pies

    Posted By on January 4, 2015

    At Fall In 2014, Recreational Conflict sold this MDF building.  It is for their line of figures for British football hooligan games.  I guess the game has been deemed as offensive in the UK for portraying football violence as a game.  So gassing thousands of folks on the Western Front is okay, but beating up a few people at a soccer game is not.  Anyway, Recreational Conflict has two buildings.  This is one that I finished today.

    This kit went together easily — even without instructions — and painted easily.  I don’t know the manufacturer, but it wasn’t pre-painted like the 4Ground ones.  That’s just as well, because I could paint the exposed tabs in the same color as the rest of the building to avoid that look of the 4Ground buildings.

    The roof comes off.  I plan to add this to the park in my town (Granville) I use for pulp games.

    Taliban fighters spank Marines and SEALs in the first HAWKs club game of 2015

    Posted By on January 4, 2015

    For our first club night of 2015, Duncan hosted his WWI version of the battle of Four Corners (Look, Sarge, No Charts: 1914) , and Noah and his son hosted a Sangin (name of the rules) modern Afghanistan skirmish.  I played in the modern game, because I wanted to see how the rules worked.

    Setting up the battlefield over a Cigar Box Battles desert map

    Setting up the battlefield over a Cigar Box Battles desert map

    Noah put together the terrain with Miniature Building Authority Middle East buildings over a Cigar Box Battles mat.  He added some Woodland Scenics trees and a scratch built rocky mountain.  The table looked quite good.

    Another view of the initial setup

    Another view of the initial setup

    We were using the rules called Sangin, which are a set of rules for modern skirmish actions.  I don’t know if they are Afghanistan specific or Southwest Asia general, but there was a lot of detail that gave it an authentic feel.

    My mortar team and the rest of my group in their initial positions on a hill overlooking the town

    My mortar team and the rest of my group in their initial positions on a hill overlooking the town

    Each player had about eight figures, representing a Taliban group or an understrength infantry squad.  I had a mortar team and small group of infantry.

    Two of my men manning a recoilless rifle

    Two of my men manning a recoilless rifle

    The game had a couple of interesting mechanics.  First, figures have a rating, called “body,” which determined the number of phases (and the sequence of activations) within a turn.  All of my figures got four activations in a ten phase turn, but better troops could have activate more frequently and worse units could have activated less frequently.  I have to say that with different figures in the squad activating in different phases, it could get difficult, even with eight figures to keep track of who was supposed to activate when.  Some colored marks or something might have been helpful.

    The Marines advance through the trees toward the town

    The Marines advance through the trees toward the town

    Second, after a figure activated (executing up to three activation points), the figure is marked with a chip that indicates how it ended the activation (e.g., kneeling, hidden, prone, running, etc.).  The markers had the modifiers for the soldier for spotting, shooting, and defensive benefit when a target.  That was quite convenient, but there were a number of additional modifiers that still required the use of the chart card — at least until we get more familiar with the rules.

    Chuck's and Kevin's Marines advancing

    Chuck's and Kevin's Marines advancing

    This is the first game I have played in quite some time that used percentile dice.  I always liked percentile dice until I realized that if you have no modifiers less than 5%, you can get the same effect with a d20.  Still, there is an intuitively please aspect to knowing that you have 45% chance of success, which means you have to roll 01 – 45 on percentile dice.  In Sangin, figures each have base percent chances of success for things like shooting, using heavy weapons, spotting, morale, etc.  These base percentages are modified by wounds, cover, posture, etc.  That worked pretty well.

    Chuck's squad, having been hammered by RPGs, mortars, and AK-47s

    Chuck's squad, having been hammered by RPGs, mortars, and AK-47s

    Another aspect of the rules that will take some getting used to is the ranges.  The burst radii for weapons seemed really large.  They were probably in scale to the scale of the figures without any distortion, but none of us know that when we started.  That meant that grenades had unexpectedly large burst radii and troops were deployed too close together.  In the above picture, you can see a large percentage of Chuck’s squad incapacitated and marked for morale checks (white squares) as a result of a 60mm mortar shell.

    Two Navy SEALs that I spanked with a recoilless rifle shot

    Two Navy SEALs that I spanked with a recoilless rifle shot

    I have to say that in general I like when the ground scale is close to the figure scale.  I took a lot of flack for that over the years with Beer and Pretzels Skirmish where even on a large table figures seldom got beyond medium range.  Keeping your ground scale close to your figure scale also tends to under-represent the value of rifles over submachine guns, pistols, and carbines as well, but somehow it feels better to me.

    A view of the center of town that shows the Cigar Box Battles mat

    A view of the center of town that shows the Cigar Box Battles mat

    In general, there were a lot of things I liked about the rules.  I think I will want to play them a few more times before making any decisions, but I think they have a lot of potential.  I think with more experience using the rules, Sangin will run quickly and play well.  I am looking forward to the next time Noah runs them.

    An artsy view of my recoilless rifle team and their SEAL targets

    An artsy view of my recoilless rifle team and their SEAL targets

    While eight of us were playing Sangin, the rest of the guys were playing Duncan’s WWI Look, Sarge, No Charts variant.

    Duncan's WWI version of The Battle of Four Corners

    Duncan's WWI version of The Battle of Four Corners

    Another view of Duncan's game

    Another view of Duncan's game

    Lots of routing French

    Lots of routing French

    A final view of Duncan's game

    A final view of Duncan's game